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School Productions: Cameras

This page outlines the options for using different numbers of cameras to video a show. Even if you plan to shoot with a single camera, it might be helpful to read this whole page to get a feel for the different ways it can be done.

Note: In most cases the footage from multiple cameras will be edited together after the show, but if you have a vision mixer you might be able to do it in real time.

One Camera

Although you can usually get by with a single camera, this is far from ideal — you will find that you need to zoom in and out a lot to get the required shots. Before long your audience will find the constant zooming unsettling. In any case it is very difficult to get a range of shots this way.

If you are limited to one camera you will need to compromise, most likely by reducing the amount of tight shots. Keep zooms slow and gentle if you can. Avoid going any tighter than you really need to.

Of course you also need to play it safe with a single camera because you don't have another shot to fall back on. Getting too tight is dangerous and can get you stuck.

Two Cameras

Two cameras provide a lot more flexibility than one. One camera can stay locked off on a wide shot so it doesn't need to be operated while the second camera concentrates on tight shots and movement. This means you don't need to zoom as much and you can be a lot more adventurous with your close-ups. Always bear the wide shot in mind while shooting and make sure you can cut to it comfortably at any time.

It is usually best to position the cameras close to each other. This makes it easier to cut between them — if their angles of view are different the cuts may look awkward. It also makes it easier to keep an eye on the second camera.

Three+ Cameras

Three or more cameras provide even more options. You could have other people operating cameras or set up different static shots. You could even have a camera by the stage pointing back at the audience for reaction shots.

Tips

Try to match the general quality of cameras. If one of them is significantly inferior to the others, it will stand out badly every time you cut to it. Also make sure their white balances are the same.

Beware of the iris on unmanned cameras. It may look fine when you set it up but become too hot when the full stage lights kick in. The iris should be set so that faces are well exposed.


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